A lintel is a form of structural support, often a beam, over openings in the building envelope, such as doors or windows. Lintels can sometimes be seen from the outside and worked into the overall design of the home; however, this isn’t always the case. The lintel can be covered following the lintel inspection and blended into the exterior of the home.
Windows and doors are not structural members of a building, and these openings leave a load above the window or doorway that needs to be supported. Lintels are important to help transfer the load above the opening to the side walls of the opening.
Lintels are commonly made of steel or timber, however, may also be made of other materials:
Signs of lintel failure can vary based on the material, but any type of deterioration around the top or at the corners of a door or window can be a significant indicator. Specific signs of lintel failure include:
Like the indicators of failure, the reason for their occurrence can vary based on the material. Most often, it is poor installation (or inadequate protection during installation) or poor maintenance.
Lintel inspections are commonly conducted by county or city employees, who are code inspectors. Builders can opt for a third party to conduct construction phase inspections, which may be better for the builder on a tight timeline, as local code inspectors are often busy and come out on their schedule, not on the builder’s schedule.